I Love a Parade
Santa from the Durham Holiday Parade
From the dark I heard his tiny voice say “Mom, I’m nervous about tomorrow.” I smiled, knowing my cautious son was running through the events of tomorrow in his head. “What are you nervous about?” I asked. “What if I trip and fall?” I smiled again. “Well, if you fall down you get back up and keep walking, just like always. I’ll be there with you. I’ll help you up. But I don’t think you’ll fall.”
We talked for a while more and then he began to fall asleep. It would be a busy day tomorrow. We were participating in the Durham Holiday Parade.
I went to the president of the company I work for a few month ago with the parade application in my hand. I think he thought I was kidding at first, but it turns out he loves a parade. He gave me the OK to sign us up, and I couldn't have been happier.
I have a thing for parades. I think they are beautiful community events where people come together to share a magical experience. People line the street and cheer and wave and yell “Merry Christmas” to those participating. It’s a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit. Now, to figure out how to add some holiday to a delivery truck and a turtle. ...
Our company has a sea turtle mascot, and he would be joining us in the parade this year. I settled on adding a Santa hat and holiday scarf to make him ready for the parade and the holidays.
As my co-workers and family members (and the brave soul who volunteered to be the turtle) drove to the drop off point early Saturday morning I saw raindrops appear on the windshield. The driver and I looked at each other and made the decision not to mention it to the people in the back. Too late to turn back now anyway.
We found our way to Main Street and met up with our 26-foot box truck decked out with garland and a wreath attached to its grill. We waited, not knowing what to expect. We watched busloads of kids in marching bands uniform unload. We watched the news anchors from WRAL arrive and get ready. We chatted with Santa as he walked by to get settled on his float – turned out we are on the good list.
The anticipation built as we got closer and closer to 11 a.m. Then we started to move. Slowly at first, as we were quite a ways back from the start of the parade. As we moved, the parade fell together. Everyone was where they were supposed to be.
I lost count of how many “Merry Christmases” I heard. I lost count of how many smiles I saw. I lost count of how many turtle high-fives we gave out. And with each one of those things my heart got fuller and fuller of the Christmas spirit.
This is who we are. This is the town I live in. These are my neighbors. This is how I want to feel every day – connected and part of something larger. Sure, we have differences and believe different things, but we can agree to come together and celebrate the good things. We can do it for the children.
I won’t soon forget all of the happy, smiling faces of the children I saw along the parade route. Some who were excited to see the turtle. Some who definitely were not. Kids sitting bundled up in stroller or on parent’s laps, soaking in the sights and sounds the community showed up to share with them.
Thank you for Durham Parks and Rec for putting this together. I can’t imagine how much time and energy it takes to get that many people all moving in the same direction. Thank you for bringing the parade back. We need it and other events like it to remind us we are all more similar than we are different and to put a little holiday magic into the lives of the children of Durham.
As for my son, when we were done he told me he loved it and can’t wait to do it again next year. “Mom, we made a lot of people happy today. That made me happy.” My Christmas gift arrived early when I heard him say that.